Churchman, humanist, educator, and scholar of the early Italian Renaissance; b. Lodi, Italy, 1406 or 1407; d. Rome, 1458. Born of distinguished parents, Vegius received his formal schooling at Milan where he studied the classics, particularly Virgil and Ovid. In 1422 he wrote his first volume of poems, Pompeiana, elegies and epigrams on country life. At his father's insistence he entered the University of Pavia at the age of 19 and studied philosophy and jurisprudence. He later devoted himself to his favorite study, poetry, and to Greek. On completing his studies he was made professor of poetry and law at Pavia. Ordained a secular priest, he went to Florence after 1431, where he became a member of the celebrated group of writers at the Medicean and papal courts. He was appointed secretary of papal briefs about 1433, and in 1442, apostolic datary. Named a canon of St. Peter's (1443) by Pope Eugene IV, Vegius remained in Rome, where he concentrated on philosophical and ecclesiastical studies. He gave his attention to Christian literature and history rather than to the classics, and eventually preferred Augustine to Virgil. After joining the Augustinians, he wrote several volumes, including De educatione liberorum et eorum claris moribus (On the Education of Children and Their Moral Training )—the most Christian in spirit of all humanistic educational treatises. In it he proposed St. Augustine and his mother, St. Monica, as models for Christian educators. Among its significant features, it urged the study of classical literature together with the study of the scripture and of the Church Fathers. It also provided for the education of girls, and emphasized the development of sound moral character as the chief end of education. Vegius wrote a total of about 50 works, including 38 poems. In 1907 the fifth centenary of Vegius's birth was celebrated at Lodi.
Bibliography: a. franzoni, L'Opera pedagogica di Maffeo Vegio (Lodi 1907). m. vegius, Maphei Vegii Laudensis de educatione liberorum et eorum claris moribus, libri sex: A Critical Text of Books 1–3 by m. w. fanning (PHD Thesis CUA, Washington 1933); Maphei Vegii Laudensis de educatione liberorum et eorum claris moribus, libri sex: A Critical Text of Books 4–6 by a. s. sullivan (PHD Thesis CUA, Washington 1936). v. j. horkan, Educational Theories and Principles of Maffeo Vegio (Washington 1953).
[v. staudt sexton]